Central & South America

Explore our most popular destinations
  • Argentina

    There are few places on earth as wondrously multifaceted as Argentina. The phrase “something for everyone“ comes to mind, but even that doesn’t do it justice. The scope of experiences to be had in this South American country are breathtaking, whether you’re a foodie, adrenaline junkie, oenophile or lover of the arts. In short, whoever you are, whatever you love, you’ll have your heart captured by Argentina. City slickers will be enchanted by the vibrant Buenos Aires, Argentina’s largest city and cosmopolitan capital. Resplendent with culture, entertainment and incredible food (including steak that will quite possibly change your life), Buenos Aires is known as “The Paris of South America.” The nightlife in this magnificent metropolis is absolutely unforgettable – you can’t leave without tangoing until sunup at least once – but quieter pursuits also make themselves known: delightfully, Buenos Aires has the highest number of bookstores per capita in the world. If you’d rather walk on the wild side, you’ll have a dizzying assortment of landscapes and climates to choose from. The spellbinding Iguazu Falls marks the border between Argentina and Brazil; no matter how many waterfalls you’ve seen in your lifetime, you’ve likely never seen any quite like this. Head south to witness hundreds of thousands of Magellan penguins bopping about (go in hatching season if you can swing it), or head to the kaleidoscopic hills of Serrania de Hornocal. And if your idea of adventure is a National Geographic-worthy glacier expedition, you’ll be positively spoilt for choice with over 300 glaciers to choose from. Food is a big part of the cultural heart and soul of Argentina, as is wine. In fact, the country is the fifth largest wine producer in the world. Though regions throughout the entire country produce wine (including some that are newly up-and-coming), the three primary hotspots are Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja. Touring vineyards in Argentina is time well spent (and if you don’t already love Malbec, you soon will), but if you only have the schedule space for one, make it Bodega Carmello Patti in Mendoza.
  • Belize

    Mayan ruins, a UNESCO barrier reef, jungle adventures and outstanding bird watching are just a few of the terrific experiences on offer in Belize. It’s a smallish country and nestled beneath Mexico and alongside Guatemala, it has a sizeable coastline that harbours the second largest barrier reef in the world. A good way to divvy up your time here is to spend half your visit in the rainforests and finish off your travels by visiting the coast or the Cayes. Although Belmopan is the capital city, you’ll no doubt fly into Belize City on the coast, where a visit to the Belize Zoo and the Museum of Belize will set you on the path to a good understanding of the unique history, fauna and culture of Belize. Get wet kayaking the lagoons and cave-tubing along subterranean rivers, or head off to the Blue Hole, a venue that’s on every serious scuba diver’s bucket list. It’s actually a giant marine sinkhole, made famous by Jaques Cousteau who introduced it to the world in 1971. If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can always book a flight and observe it from above. Prefer to keep your feet on the land? Lace up your hiking boots and explore the jungles and pine forests. You’ll have the chance to view stunning wildlife – nearly 600 bird species alone – in their natural habitat. Once the epicentre of the Mayan civilisation, the country has the highest concentration of temples in all of Central America, with Caracol being the most important. Next up, beach time beckons, and you may want to head to Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, Belize’s largest island and its “little sister”. Both attract divers and beachcombers, sunbathers and snorkellers. San Pedro on the former, however, is our choice for resort-style living, generally considered an excellent, upscale destination.
  • Brazil

    South America’s largest country is as dazzlingly exotic as it is geographically diverse, and with a year-round sub-tropical climate, there’s plenty of appeal. You have to travel by plane to experience different regions, and for the adventurous, a journey into the Amazon rainforest should be top of the list. Encounters with indigenous tribes, endemic wildlife, or even tranquil boat trips along the second-longest river on the planet await you. For wildlife lovers, the Pantanal area holds the most allure. Often overlooked, its beautiful and remote wetlands are home to abundant birdlife, exotic flora and fauna. You’ll experience nature at its most beautiful on a visit to the immense Iguazu Falls – witnessing their power first hand is spectacular. Equally captivating, Brazil’s history is best discovered in the cobble-stoned towns of Minas Gerais state. Dramatic tales of the 18th-century gold rush, opulent colonial architecture and stunning mountain scenery combine to make this an enchanting region. Up the coast, Salvador runs to its own rhythm. Historically influenced by the African slave trade, the Unesco World Heritage Site is celebrated for its music, dance, fabulous carnival and beautiful cathedral. But a stay wouldn’t be complete without sampling the delicious local seafood – another true highlight. Brazil’s coastline is one of its most attractive assets with swathes of glistening white sand beaches broken up only by tranquil little fishing villages that epitomise laid-back living. The bays of Bahia state are particularly romantic and promise the ultimate barefoot escape. The main entry and exit points of the country are Rio and Sao Paulo, but exploring these cities is far from a chore – in fact, it’s a must. Oozing Latin flavour, their streets are filled with colour, sultry samba sounds, incredible art, gastronomy and gorgeous architecture. But the most wonderful asset in Brazil is its people. Uncompromisingly sensual, vivacious and expressive, Brazilians define ‘cool’, and their lust for life is infectious – this is likely to be what you’ll remember the most.
  • Chile

    Often overlooked in favour of its more popular neighbours, Slovakia is a small, landlocked country in Central Europe with what we believe to be the largest number of castles per capita of any country, well over 100. All this protection was no doubt necessary to prevent invasion way back when – from marauding Mongol forces and, later, the onslaught of the Ottoman–Habsburg wars. Travel cross-country, by all means, to absorb the most of what the country has to offer, but a good place to start the journey is the country’s capital, Bratislava, where locals speak Slavick and the Euro is the currency used. Start at the city’s most obvious attraction, the fairytale-like Bratislava Castle, a massive rectangular structure with four identical corner towers. Sitting on a hilltop, it dominates the city below. Also in the same gothic style is St. Martin’s Cathedral and the less popular Blue Church, our favourite as it looks something like a Fabergé egg inside. After sightseeing, stop into Kaffee Mayer, Bratislava's elegant equivalent of Vienna’s Café Sperl. Sit outside, or inside, where one of the rooms features a large portrait of Empress Sissi, and enjoy a meal or something sweet. Another culinary tip, the country’s national dish is called “Bryndzové halušky” which consists of potato dumplings with melted, gooey sheep’s cheese on top (and usually crispy bacon as a topper). To work all that off, head out to explore the majestic High Tatras which peaks at about 2500 metres, a stunning venue for skiing and hiking. Throughout the country are caves and hot springs to visit, and if you keep going (almost 400 km from Bratislava, headed northeast), you’ll reach the country’s most famous castle: Spiš Castle. A Unesco World Heritage site, it is one of the largest castles in Central Europe, built in the 12th century.
  • Colombia

    You don’t need to be a travel expert to know that Columbia hasn’t always been hot on a list of countries to explore. And not because it has little to offer, quite the contrary as it tums out, but rather Pablo Escobar and others in his league made sure that visitors stayed well away. He’s been dead for almost three decades now, and while some areas of the country remain on the no-go list, you can be reasonably sure that a visit to the top three cities: Bogata, Medellin and Cartagena are pretty safe bets. As some of the most exciting destinations on our recommended “to do” list for many of the intrepid travellers we know; read on... Bogata, the capital, remains somewhat sketchy, especially at night. Proceed with caution, but don’t let it put you off. New restaurants, cafes, boutique hotels and craft breweries are everywhere to be found and clever, forward-thinking tour guides offer off-the-beaten-track exploratory excursions which give guests an exciting opportunity to get to know the city and its people. Serendipitous tours like those that explore street art, food fascination and Columbian politics should appeal. If you’re into street art (and we sure are), Bogota’s decision in 2011 to decriminalise graffiti opened up a new and uber exciting underground art world. In 2013, Medellin was voted the world’s most innovative city. It certainly has a shady past, but those days are long gone, and today there’s heaps of art, sculpture and tourism pursuits to enjoy. Interestingly, the artist and sculptor, Fernando Botero, hails from here. His sculptures are found throughout town and in the Museum of Antioquia (even if Bogota’s Botero Museum has more). Cartagena is one of the most fabulous colonial cities in Latin America and needs to be a stop on every itinerary.
  • Costa Rica

    In Costa Rica, there’s a single saying that’s used far more often than any other greeting: “Pura Vida”. This translates to “pure life,” and while it's used to mean everything from “hello” and “goodbye” to “everything’s great”, pura vida is so much more than just an expression. It’s truly a way of life in this Central American country and reflects the ethos of simplicity and joy that makes Costa Rica one of the happiest nations in the world. If you find yourself daydreaming about the lush rainforest and tropical coastlines of Costa Rica, you’re not alone. The natural beauty of this country is so abundant that more than a quarter of its land has been devoted to national parks, wildlife reserves and other protected areas. There’s so much to see, and the first thing you’ll want to decide is which coastline you want to tackle: the Caribbean or the Pacific – or if you have the time, both. The Pacific coastline is the more developed of the two, and is peppered with magnificent beach towns (many of which are great for surfers) and lively social scenes. This coast is also more accessible from the country’s two international airports, but the convenience does not come at the expense of natural beauty: eleven natural parks line the coast and wildlife sighting opportunities are plentiful. The Caribbean coast has even more rugged, wild charm. Boutique hotels and eco-lodges outnumber the larger resorts, and much of the wildlife you’ll encounter is unique to this coast. Highlights include Cahuita National Park (which has some of the country’s most exquisite coral reefs) and the beaches of Tortuguero National Park, where four different species of sea turtles make their nests. This coast also enjoys the Caribbean flair that’s added to traditional Costa Rican dishes, but rest assured that – wherever you stay – you’ll be treated to magnificent just-caught seafood and divinely fresh produce. Pura vida.
  • Mexico

    With miles of tropical coastline and stunning beaches which can only be compared to the golden sands of the Caribbean, Mexico is a firm favourite for a spicy, luxury beach holiday. Thanks to its rich and varied biodiversity, heritage and intriguing traditions, there are also seemingly endless opportunities for discovering ancient sites, wildlife encounters and outdoor adventures. If you are in pursuit of fantastic beaches, head to Los Cabos, lapped by the Sea of Cortez, where you can chill out in style at one of the beach clubs. Or if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, amble around towns that are replete with colonial architecture, little squares and churches. The legacies of the Aztec and Mayan civilisations live on in Mexico. Visit the impressive ruined temples at Chichén Itzá, Uxmál and Tulum, once dedicated to the worship of Mayan gods. Religious festivities have been an important part of Mexican life ever since and are often vibrant affairs, from the powder fights of the Ocozocuautla carnival to the famous ‘day of the dead’. For a softer adventure, there are lots of great golf resorts or opportunities to explore the wildlife of the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an by boat. For a real thrill, dive into the Great Mayan Reef or venture into the jungle to swim in the crystal clear cenotes. Don’t miss out on another opportunity to go local and savour mezcal, raicilla or fine tequila which, just like a good malt whisky, should always be sipped. Or, if you prefer your spirits disguised as a cocktail, order a refreshing Margarita. Meanwhile, Mexican cuisine is packed full of flavour and fresh contrasts to awaken your tastebuds: think smoky chipotle, zesty lime, guacamole and tomato chilli salsa. And, if you’d like to take a little bit of Mexico home, a piece of silver jewellery from Taxco, leather goods from Guanajuato, and handicrafts made by the Huichol Indians make great souvenirs.
  • Panama

    Of course, we all know Panama as home to the Panama Canal (and more on that later), but this elongated, narrow country that bridges Central and South America has a plethora of offerings for the intrepid traveller and explorers alike. Start in the capital, Panama City, where modern skyscrapers, cafes, superb dining opportunities, casinos and nightclubs await. Of note is a very small district in the city, Casco Viejo (literally meaning 'old quarter'). It’s a Unesco-protected area and, hard to believe today, it wasn’t long ago that gangs patrolled the streets and everyone with any sense stayed well away. Today it’s an uber-hip locale with some of the city’s most popular, chic venues. Something you may not know is that the ubiquitous Panama hat doesn’t actually come from Panama. Rather, it comes from Ecuador, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to pick one up here. In fact, there’s a lot of shopping opportunities, high-end and otherwise, if you cannot keep your fingers off your credit card. But put aside some time to visit the country’s lush rainforest territory, or if you’re short on time, Panama City’s Natural Metropolitan Park, a 265-hectare national treasure. There’s a number of hiking trails right here, and you’ll have the chance to see sloths, iguanas and other reptiles, crocodiles, deer, titi monkeys and endless birds of many colours, not to mention the flora. Since you’re in Panama, acquaint yourself with the canal, an engineering marvel. Work began on this ambitious project to link the Pacific and Atlantic oceans with this man-made 48-mile waterway in 1880. By its completion in 1914, some 25,000 people had lost their lives. The Panama Canal Museum is definitely worth a visit; located in Casco Viejo, it’s just one more reason to visit this barrio.
  • Peru

    If you have an adventurous spirit, a luxury adventure holiday in Peru will probably have made it onto your ‘bucket list’ already. Rightly so. Such a fascinating destination offers many cultural, sightseeing and wildlife experiences — including the number one reason people come here — Machu Picchu. If you think you need weeks to explore, think again. Internal flights and trains are efficient, and they cover incredibly breathtaking scenery to keep you entertained. Lima is where your adventure will begin. Explore the pretty plazas edged by Spanish colonial buildings and visit Casa di Aliga, a private residence lived in by the same family since 1535. Experience the changing of the guard at the presidential palace and then peruse the markets, shops, museums and galleries in town. Beaches are just a 30 minute drive away, where surfing is very popular, or head to a gourmet restaurant like Astrid and Garcon. Peruvian cuisine includes plenty of fresh fish plucked straight from the Pacific Ocean or the rivers in the highlands, so do try the excellent ceviche. For evening drinks, the bars of the bohemian Barranco district are great places to down a pisco sour. Head to the city of Cusco: you’ll need to come through here en route to Machu Picchu. It’s at an altitude of 3,400m, so take it easy. Stay a couple of days, acclimatise and learn about Inca culture at the site of Saqsaywaman. People-watching in the main square is an eventful pastime. Marvel at the colonial architecture, as women in traditional dress walk their alpacas through the cobbled streets. Travel on through the Andes passing meadows, snow-capped mountain peaks, rolling hills and villages, until you reach your train which will take you through the stunning Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes for your adventure to Machu Picchu. As the citadel ruins appear above the clouds, it’s one of life’s most awesome moments. A guided tour, preferably in the morning before the crowds arrive, will help you fully appreciate the Inca history. If you’re hungry for more, Peru’s Nazca Lines (mysterious giant sketches located in the Nazca Desert and best viewed from the air); Lake Titicaca; cruises on the Amazon; the frozen mummies at Arequipa; and the Colca Canyon (home to the Andean Condor), will keep you mesmerised.